The Terrible Twos Syndrome of Golf Club Fitting: Part Twenty-Eight

With appropriate golf grips installed on each of the constructed test clubs and well dried, there are a couple of cleanup details to attend to in further preparation for testing.  While sometimes easily visible and sometimes not depending upon exactly how the grips were installed, residual adhesive often remains on the clubs, especially parts of the shafts and/or grips and can be fairly substantial, usually warranting a step of some adhesive cleanup.  The same solvent used to install the grips may be and is often used, wetting a rag(s) with the solvent and thoroughly cleaning the shafts and any parts of the grips (and even clubheads that were handled during gripping) that may have any residual adhesive on them, which can be sticky, attract other garbage to it, and then be even more difficult to remove later.  A rag material that is softer is better.  While a single occasion may not generally be noticeable, repeated grippings and cleanups over the lifespan of a golf shaft (the exact shaft material can obviously play a prominent role) can show scratching over time if using a rag material that has a rougher surface texture.

Use a solvent that does not leave behind a residue for the final cleanup, as not all solvents have that characteristic.  (If a water-soluble-adhesive tape was used for grip installation, then a water solution will feasibly dissolve and clean up any residual adhesive).  While solvents can be applied to a grip’s surface, be more cautious when working on cleaning up grips.  Even the mildest of solvents can start to dissolve many common grip materials.  This can often be seen by just quickly wiping across a grip’s surface with a solvent and seeing evidence of actual grip material on the rag.  But you still do not want to just leave any sticky residual adhesive on a grip’s surface, which might be substantial sometimes.  Just do not overdo the solvent use, clean up the grips as quickly as reasonably possible while still be conscientious about it, and allow the solvent to evaporate thoroughly before doing anything else to the grips so as to prevent any further potential grip deterioration.  The strongest solvents might possibly even affect the finish of certain types of golf shafts.

After cleaning up any residual adhesive it should also be a routine practice to give the new golf grips a good cleaning before beginning any specific testing.  Unlike residual adhesive cleanup that generally only needs attention once after gripping (although clubs might subsequently be handled with adhesive still on one’s hands from working on other clubs for example and may need occasional inspection), cleaning grips is much more of a routine practice that typically should be performed on a fairly regular basis during the life of a golf grip.  The most common procedure for doing so is through giving grips a good scrubbing with a brush (to best get into any crevices and pores of the grips), soap, and water (unless recommended differently by perhaps the manufacturer of any given golf grip model).  A golf tee is most commonly secured in the grip cap hole to prevent liquid from getting down into the golf shaft during grip cleaning and potentially contributing to troublesome issues of various types.

This information also should be contemplated more as supplemental material to that which has already been published by uncounted other sources and not a thoroughgoing attempt to cover these topics of adhesive cleanup and grip cleaning.  Just to describe a few details that need to be additionally investigated in order to achieve competent results are that many bar soaps have deodorants in them (which may or may not appeal to any given individual), many liquid-type soaps have lotions or other additives in them that could leave a film behind and be disadvantageous to use for cleaning golf grips, and brushes can vary considerably in texture, some being sufficiently stiff that shafts can be scratched if being brushed over and/or the surface quality of the grip itself might be affected, particularly after repeated scrubbings.

There are also other aspects related to these tasks that I may or may not address more later depending on the specific topic at hand but not here and now.  These might include but not be limited to adjustments in any adhesive residue cleanup and/or grip cleaning for leather grips whereas only rubber-type grips are discussed here.  Different procedures and/or materials can be recommended for prepping and/or maintaining not just leather grips but also cord-type or other different-material grips or other golf club components.  Various things are known to have been tried to try to recondition grips and help them last a little longer especially if previously neglected or just becoming old.  And signs of when grips really need to be changed no matter what may be easy for experienced people to see yet very difficult for inexperienced people to see, and some additional information might be welcomed in such an area.  But such particulars go pretty far beyond the scope of what this post title sequence is trying to focus on right now and so are only broadly mentioned here.  Just be aware of such various potential elements so they can at least be considered and further investigated if and when appropriate, as once put on well one may or may not want to leave the particular test grips on the test clubs as long as effectively possible, and I will not likely address this subject matter further in the remainder of this post sequence.

Now a point has been reached where three test golf clubs have been constructed that, with the exception of the grips, are so exactly the same in the details as to in essence be the identical golf club three times over again if constructed correctly, with any exceptions to this described earlier in this post title sequence.  Three different, traditionally successive golf grip sizes (of the same grip model to secure the best results and learning from this testing) are installed on the test clubs and aligned well (especially relevant when ribbed golf grips are used, but alignment can be extremely important even when using so-called “round” grips in light of certain grip manufacturing processes).  The use of ribbed golf grips can be quite advantageous for any talent level of golfer if understood and applied correctly, and this element will be explored more later.  After the grip installations are thoroughly dry, a generally one-time residual adhesive cleanup is performed, followed by a thorough cleaning of the grips even though they are brand new.  Even new golf grips right out of the box can often be relatively dirty or dusty, something that cannot usually be readily seen until one of them is thoroughly cleaned and then compared to the others.  Such an initial cleaning will bring out the designed look and feel of the grips, and grip cleanings should be routinely performed thereafter as appropriate, which I will plausibly bring up again as I continue.

Now specifically testing for one’s best golf club specifications has different procedures and priorities associated with such testing that in certain ways can be considerably more important than “regular” practice or playing or specifically working on one’s golf swing.  To that end, I first need to go over a couple of “non-golf-club” issues that are crucial to thoroughly consider before swinging begins in order to achieve competent success from the following testing.  Again I cannot likely address every possible detail that needs to be considered here, but in at least addressing the following elements the door will be opened wide toward making one realize how critical such elements can be with respect to their connection with and relevance to effective golf club fitting.  They are of such importance that without taking such non-golf-club elements thoroughly into account, golf club fitting cannot really take place in a comprehensively effective manner.

One of these specific elements is whether one should or should not wear a golf glove when going over any of one’s golf club specifications (assumes that one regularly wears a golf glove when playing and practicing).  I particularly point out a continuing widespread ignorance within the clubfitting trade regarding multiple topics, just one of them being that wearing a golf glove results in a substantial decrease in the effective swingweight of a golf club.  This technically incorrect garbage does little more than embarrass the entire golf industry and secure the clubfitting trade’s reputation as being the worst in all of sports and a complete laughingstock.  But since so many people continue to believe this nonsense emanating from multiple pretenders somehow being called clubfitting experts, and since swingweight is one golf club specification that is an integral part of clubfitting and an extremely relevant part of the following testing, I am really left with no choice but to address the topic of golf gloves some before swinging and clubfitting can commence.

So to begin with, a golf glove, traditionally worn only on a golfer’s top gripping hand (left hand for a right-handed golfer), is commonly utilized mostly for two reasons.  The first is that under certain conditions (hot and humid weather as just one example) and/or with certain grip materials more than others, wearing a golf glove may be helpful toward helping one hold onto a golf club more securely, particularly on full, hard swings.  I have indeed personally encountered situations where I really had to grab for a golf glove even when I preferred not to use one.  One particular experience that vividly comes to mind was a qualifying tournament where I was so dripping wet from sweat by about the third hole that I could barely hold onto the particular grips I had on my clubs at the time under the conditions, searching out a glove from my bag and wearing one the remainder of the round, which did help a little.  But such extreme experiences have admittedly been fairly rare for me, and when I play or practice without a glove even rain soaked grips often do not motivate me to grab for a golf glove.  But there are many different factors involved, and if I lived in a different geographical location for instance I might feel quite differently about one or more aspects regarding golf glove use.

Note here, however, that even with great care I have had golf gloves where the glove material turned quite slick over time (much like many golf grips do), making it actually harder to hold onto my clubs the way I wanted to with the glove on rather than off.  So wearing a golf glove is hardly some magical gripping aid to blindly depend on, and wearing one does come with its share of concerns.  Some experience and knowledge is necessary to be able to use a golf glove to its fullest potential or one might actually put oneself at a disadvantage by using one.  Much of this specific knowledge of use is again outside the range of this particular testing and might perhaps be gotten into more later, focusing here primarily on a golf glove’s possible ramifications on clubfitting results.

The second prominent reason for wearing a golf glove is to help protect one’s hand, especially when practicing the way one should.  One’s top hand in particular can be more prone to things like major soreness, blister formation, and skin splitting (like a paper cut [without paper involvement] that most often forms during dry weather periods) when not wearing a glove, and such occurrences could prevent one from doing any decent playing or practicing for a week or more while healing.  I can certainly personally attest to that.  Or calluses can form and build up that can help prevent future blistering (yet make skin splitting worse if it occurs around toughened skin), but such calluses may even become bothersome at times for various reasons (they can form in places and manners that may not be exactly the same every time) and one may want to remove them, only to then start the process all over again.  Wearing a golf glove can eliminate or at least substantially reduce such effects.  But, particularly if one’s top hand is gotten in good enough “golfing condition” where a glove is not necessary to prevent blistering or other hand injuries that might thwart one’s playing and/or practice time, there can be downsides to wearing a golf glove.

Now in a perfect world, if choosing to use a golf glove one might sanely hope that none of one’s ideal golf club specifications would change regardless of whether one is wearing the glove or not during clubfitting endeavors.  But it is hardly a perfect world, and for any given golfer there might be a playable difference in one or more golf club specification values chosen depending on whether the golfer does or does not wear a golf glove during clubfitting procedures.  This may be for any number of reasons including but not limited to the way the golfer holds onto a golf club, the way the golfer executes his/her pre-swing and/or swinging motion, whether certain golf club specifications like swingweight even work for the golfer at a fundamental level, and/or exactly what the golfer (or clubfitter) is looking for with respect to one or more specific clubfitting elements.  If determined that any of one’s chosen golf club specifications will be appreciably different depending upon whether a golf glove is worn or not, then it is pretty much a no-brainer decision for one to wear a golf glove when any of one’s club specifications are analyzed and chosen when clubfitting.  In such cases, even if unwittingly wearing a damaged, ill-fitting, or brand new golf glove that is not “broken in” yet during clubfitting, one will still likely achieve closer-to-ideal club specification values than if no glove were worn.

Now I am not specifically trying to dissuade anyone from taking this route, because it simply must be done if one gets a playable difference in the fit of any given golf club specification depending on whether a golf glove is worn or not.  But be aware of the following additional issues that can come into play if needing to do this, as they can profoundly affect one’s overall golf game.  Despite what some people might believe, the detailed fit of any given golf club to a golfer is just as critical for the smallest, most subtle strokes (often called touch shots) as for the fullest, hardest of swings made with that club.  In plain fact, one’s smallest strokes form the foundation for all larger swings made (contrary thinking is amateurish), and as such “fitting small” is a critical procedure in the overall scheme of clubfitting.  (Ideally, one’s best golf club specification values would be identical for both extremes and everything in between).  Thus, if a golfer has certain clubs that may routinely be used while not wearing a golf glove (most often limited to smaller shots around the greens and certainly including the putter), and since a playable difference in club specification values has been shown to be present based upon whether the golfer does or does not wear a golf glove, then such clubs planned for use without wearing a golf glove, as small as the planned strokes might be, must be fit under the conditions in which they will be used, including without wearing a golf glove and separately from any clubs fit while wearing a glove.  This separate fitting must naturally extend to any full-swing clubs as well that might be planned for swinging exclusively without a golf glove on.

Now if there are clubs that the golfer might use for both full swings with a glove on and delicate strokes with a glove off, this would certainly be an undesirable circumstance in that a best-clubfit situation would not exist under both conditions of club use.  (This “double-duty” versatility is more often employed by golfers among roughly their 8-iron through their wedges, although any club can be used as such as any given situation calls for).  This can put the golfer at a disadvantage against a golfer that does not experience such golf club specification differences between glove-on and glove-off circumstances.  Such an issue can negatively affect the golfer’s game more deeply than might be seen on the surface, where a decision has to be made as to which situation to choose for having the best clubfit and knowing that the other circumstance will be lacking a best clubfit.  This is a specific example of where extraordinarily poor, very illogical, and downright farcical fundamental clubfitting knowledge to begin with (that of golf club swingweight being effectively and severely reduced by the common wearing of a golf glove) can start a series of rather ugly events that can turn things quite bad for golfers.